Guns, endangered species proposal, and another news conference without any news mark start of week
State Rep. Miguel Garcia is feeling awfully good about himself.
His House Bill 77 would require background checks of all people trying to buy firearms at gun shows. These checks are uneven now. Garcia, right, considers that a giant loophole in public safety.
His bill, first blocked in the House Judiciary Committee, has new life. He rewrote parts of it, and the proposal cleared the same committee last week. It could receive a vote by the full House of Representatives as soon as Wednesday.
Even better news for Garcia, D-Albuquerque, is that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said she would sign the measure into law.
Now Garcia should revisit a bill on drunken workers that Democrats on his Labor and Human Resources Committee bottled up last week.
His concerns about guns getting into the hands of felons or mentally ill people are legitimate.
But why isn't Garcia just as worried about intoxicated workers who drive city garbage trucks or populate construction sites?
If they injure themselves or others after a night of boozing they can still collect the lion's share of workers' compensation benefits because of flaws and conflicts in existing state laws.
Garcia helped squash a bill to reform this system of lunacy.
He should know that a drunk on the job can turn his vehicle into a bullet.
* The lesser prairie chicken will be object of a political rally Tuesday in Roswell.
Technically speaking, this fowl of the West is a candidate for listing as a threatened species.
Ha. No chance on that one.
Everybody already knows that the Obama administration, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will reject federal protection for the bird.
The U.S. government's way of dealing with the case simply will be to let land owners, oil and gas companies and other businesses sign agreements promising to coexist in peace with the prairie chicken.
After that, executives of the Interior Department and Fish and Wildlife will celebrate like they just won the World Series.
An endangered species case is supposed to be about science, but this one is overtly political.
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Hobbs, is still riding high from his successful campaign last year to block the dunes sagebrush lizard from receiving an endangered listing.
The prairie chicken is now in his sights. Pearce offered this statement to get hearts pumping in Roswell.
“Our jobs and our way of life in southern New Mexico are under attack,” he said.
Last month, when speaking to the state Legislature, Pearce said something else was threatening his southern New Mexico district.
He said that good jobs, some paying $80,000 or more a year, were going unfilled because many people could not pass drug tests or preferred to remain on government assistance.
The prairie chicken sounds like less a threat to prosperity than what Pearce described as chronic laziness.
Of course, Pearce's critics say his claims about an abundance of high-paying jobs were more mythical than the unicorn.
* The New Mexico Senate on Monday confirmed Gregory A. Myers as cabinet secretary of the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He was named deputy secretary in October 2011 and became acting secretary in January 2012.
It's nice for Myers to have the confirmation process behind him.
But when will the Senate Rules Committee schedule a confirmation hearing for Hanna Skandera? She has been secretary-designate of public education for more than two years but has yet to appear before the committee.
The longer that Senate Democrats leave Skandera in purgatory, the less meaningful the confirmation process becomes.
* Democrats in the Legislature had another news conference Monday, this one on education.Sen. Michael Padilla, a freshman from Albuquerque, talked at length about using interest earnings from the state's $11 billion endowment to help finance improvements in education.
Missing from the confab was Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who chairs the Finance Committee.
Padilla, right, can yammer at reporters until the endowment hits $10 trillion. But Smith is the senator who can stop the initiative in his committee if he wants to. All he would have to do is delay a hearing on the bill until deep into the 60-day legislative session, then let the clock run out.
The real news would have been if the rest of the Democrats had dragged John Arthur to the party's news conference for a no-holds-barred discussion.
As for Padilla, he sidestepped a question about how he and other proponents of the proposed constitutional amendment would win over John Arthur, who is wary of dipping into any part of the state's endowments.
Padilla once was governor of Boys State, a program to teach teenagers about state government. Even back then, he should have known of John Arthur.